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View logwolf's profile

Spindle chair leg split & broke

by logwolf
posted 09-16-2018 10:48 PM


12 replies so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

4493 posts in 983 days


#1 posted 09-17-2018 12:07 AM

If it’s an heirloom, obviously you can’t buy him a new one. I see two choices; either repair it properly, or pay someone to do it for you. The chair is repairable as it stands, it’s just a matter of doing it right.

You’ll need to separate all of the parts and clean out the glue. It’s likely hide glue, so a heat gun will soften it. The parts that are broken will need to be glued back together. If the break caused damage that shows after getting them together — missing chips, etc — you’ll need to do some filling and finish repair. That’s a skill in itself that requires experience, tools and the right fill material for the situation. I see some splintering in the second to last photo that tells me you’re definitely going to have filling to do.

Finally, if you can get the pieces repaired and are ready to re-glue the chair, do a dry fit first. That’s the mistake you made that got you into this mess. You need to completely re-assemble the chair — without glue — to ensure all of the parts fit properly and that you know what order you’ll need to do them in when you do glue it up. Take notes as you go so you can refer to them when you do the gluing.

Good luck. You’re dealing with something that takes a lot of experience to do right.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View HerbC's profile

HerbC

1801 posts in 3253 days


#2 posted 09-17-2018 12:12 AM

Strongly recommend you use hot hide glue when reassembling the chair.

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!" http://lumberjocks.com/HerbC/blog/17090

View Rich's profile

Rich

4493 posts in 983 days


#3 posted 09-17-2018 12:25 AM


Strongly recommend you use hot hide glue when reassembling the chair.

- HerbC

Herb is right about the hide glue. I assume the gluing you already did was using that Titebond shown in your photo. If you can’t get those joints apart to clean out that glue, I don’t know what to tell you.

Since you likely don’t have a glue pot and experience using hot hide glue, get yourself some liquid hide glue. The best choice is Old Brown Glue, but if you can’t find that, Titebond makes hide glue that will work.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

8305 posts in 3192 days


#4 posted 09-17-2018 01:33 AM

Old Brown Glue is not hard to find these days as it is carried by stores like Woodcraft and Lee Valley but if you can’t find it you can always buy from the source.
http://www.oldbrownglue.com
It would have been my first choice (and I do use HHG every day) because of the open time required to assemble the chair.
Too bad you have introduced pva as now the job has become much harder. Now you need to remove all the old glue. Before (if it was hide glue originally) all you would have needed to do would have been apply new glue. It would have reactivated the old and you would have been done.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View logwolf's profile

logwolf

34 posts in 926 days


#5 posted 09-17-2018 03:37 AM

I guess I didn’t explain correctly. I’m not worried about the type of glue I use, I’m trying to figure out how to fix that break I caused without having to remove the spindles already installed.
Thank you for the responses. There is a lot of great information, you shared…especially about the hide glue.

I will probably have to cut those spindles at the ends and glue in spacers for the legs to reach out to the holes.

-- Larry

View Rich's profile

Rich

4493 posts in 983 days


#6 posted 09-17-2018 03:46 AM


I guess I didn t explain correctly. I m not worried about the type of glue I use, I m trying to figure out how to fix that break I caused without having to remove the spindles already installed.
Thank you for the responses. There is a lot of great information, you shared…especially about the hide glue.

I will probably have to cut those spindles at the ends and glue in spacers for the legs to reach out to the holes.

- logwolf

What we’re trying to tell you is that you used the wrong glue, so you should be worried about it. I hope that chair doesn’t have any real value, whether monetary or sentimental, because you’re ruining it.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Jeremymcon's profile

Jeremymcon

349 posts in 1074 days


#7 posted 09-17-2018 04:03 PM

I don’t see why you should need spacers. Not really even sure what you mean, but I’m imagining you wanting to make the spindles longer? But if you used the same spindles they should be the right length… The thing about the way these chairs go together is that the whole undercarriage is tapered. If you put the undercarriage all together and then try to get into the holes in the seat, the legs will always seem like they’re too close together. But once they’re in their holes and can slide upward (at an angle) they’ll be in the correct positions.

I’m surprised that the leg broke… When I built the Windsor rocking chair I made, there was enough flex in the undercarriage that I could seat the leg tenons after gluing up the spindles. But I guess I didn’t have as many spindles…

I’ve only built one Windsor, so keep that in mind, but here’s what I’m thinking:

Now that you’ve already glued the spindles (and with a non-reversible glue), you’re really in a bind! Can you get the legs into the seat now that the one leg is broken? If so, I would maybe consider doing so and gluing them in. Then I would probably try to epoxy the leg back together where it broke (with the chair assembled).

I would not do any of this if the chair is of significant sentimental value, or if you anticipate anyone particularly heavy sitting on the chair with regularity. If either of those are the situation, I think I’d apologize sincerely to your friend, and tell him to take it to a professional!

Good luck.

View logwolf's profile

logwolf

34 posts in 926 days


#8 posted 09-17-2018 06:02 PM

Thank you Jeremy for the info. And that is exactly what I’m doing. Putting the legs in the holes and then gluing the break. The spacers were mentioned to extend the spindle, but it seems I can put the legs in the holes and still be able to connect the break ok. The reason the leg broke was due to me, out of panic, trying to spread the legs apart to fit into the holes. It appears that while gluing and clamping the two front legs together, I put too much pressure on the clamps and the legs pulled in more then they should have. Yes, this is a sentimental chair to my friend. He’s been using it as a computer chair. He can’t afford a professional to do this. That’s why he asked me to re glue the spindles and legs. He weighs 230+ pounds, so …..?

I have a carpenter friend who suggested I repair the break with Gorilla expanding glue. (polyurathane glue). But my fear is that if it expands it will push the broken area apart. So, should I use this or hide glue.

I want to apologize to everyone making recommendations about using hide glue. I was not aware of the properties of this glue and how I could have reversed the glue to take out the spindles and start over.

This will be a great lesson, never do repairs on heirlooms or sentimental items.

-- Larry

View Jeremymcon's profile

Jeremymcon

349 posts in 1074 days


#9 posted 09-17-2018 09:53 PM

Yea carpenters and non-woodworking people really love gorilla glue for whatever reason. In my woodworking I’ve found that it doesn’t tend to hold as well as tite bond. And the “expanding” feature isn’t really what people make it out to be. It does bubble and spread as it cures, but that foamy stuff is brittle and doesn’t really fill gaps like people imagine it will.

I would use epoxy to repair the broken leg. I wouldn’t worry about hide glue for that type of repair – just use epoxy or tite bond if that makes you feel more comfortable.

One thing that I have done in the past is this: glue up the leg with epoxy. Then take a hand saw and saw the leg off as square as you can get it right where the break was. Now you have two nice flat surfaces into which you can drill a hole. Carefully find the center of the leg on each piece, have someone spot you from the side and drill a hole about 1/2 the diameter of the leg. Glue/epoxy in an oak dowel. You could also drill a smaller diameter hole and use a metal dowel. Never tried that though.

And honestly, either way the chair will never be as strong as it was before it was broken, IMO. Only way to do that would be to turn a new leg.

View logwolf's profile

logwolf

34 posts in 926 days


#10 posted 09-17-2018 10:25 PM

Wow! Jeremy, you are reading my mind. That is exactly what I am going to do, dowel in center of leg pieces after gluing and, and then cuttiing leg to give me a flat surface to work with. I was going to use the gorilla glue for the initial break repair, but use titebond hide glue for the dowel repair and final assembly of spindles and legs.
I’ll let my friend know what happened after I repair it. He’s in bad health and afraid he may get excited about me breaking the leg. If he wants to replace the leg, I’d have to reverse the hide glue where the legs go in and replace the entire leg assembly because up to now, the front spindles and rear spindles have been attached using titebond III glue.
Again, thank you for your feedback Jeremy.

-- Larry

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

696 posts in 1496 days


#11 posted 09-17-2018 10:39 PM

I think I see in your top picture a significant crack in the leg just above one of the other spindles. I believe that the leg was destined for failure anyway especially with a very heavy person using it. The fact that you broke it may have saved your friend from injury later (hope that makes you feel a little better). I think you have only two choices: repair the leg and joints with epoxy as suggested above. If you elect to do this, you need to advise your friend that from now on, the chair is decorative only; not to be used. The fact that the break is in a rear leg only makes it worse and your friend could end up getting hurt. The other option, also mentioned above, is to find someone to turn a new leg for it. That is the only way it is going to end up being usable again (safely). The latter may only be worth doing if the chair has some significant antique value.

IMHO, and with respect, I don’t think the dowel idea is good. This portion of the leg is already “weakened” by multiple spindle holes. I think that cutting and drilling for a dowel will only serve to weaken it further. Fix it all with some structural epoxy and call it a day.

Good luck.

View logwolf's profile

logwolf

34 posts in 926 days


#12 posted 09-19-2018 01:36 AM

Hi bilyo
Thank you for your response. I checked the leg again, and fortunately that was not a crack. It looked like it in the picture, but it’s not. I’ll have that talk with my friend about being aware of the leg repair. To make a new leg would involve making two legs and three spindles. So I’ll stick to my repair plan with a dowel right now.
Thanks again for you feedback.

-- Larry

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